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Fall for K-Ballads: 15 Songs For Your Autumn Playlist

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

It's not autumn without some stirring Korean ballads. Have you curated your autumn playlist yet? Here are our picks for 15 K-ballads that best accompany the feeling of reflection and nostalgia when autumn leaves fall.

1. Toy (Yoo Hee Yeol)Three of Us (with Sung Si Kyung)

Toy, better known as Yoo Hee Yeol, wrote a melodious ode to a past love in his seventh album Da Capo. Performed by ballad prince Sung Si Kyung, "Three of Us" tells a sad love story about a person seeing his best friend marry his longtime crush. You might not have experienced such a dilemma before, but once you listen to the song in Sung Si Kyung's dulcet yet heartwrenching voice, melancholy and reminiscence will immediately wash over you. It's a song about youth, about love, and about somebody you shouldn't love.

2. Park Hyo ShinWild Flower

Park Hyo Shin leapt to fame in 2004 with the Korean version of "Snow Flower." Ten years later, after experiencing the ups and downs of the music industry, he released "Wild Flower" as his comeback following an extended hiatus. Produced with Jung Jae Il, this simple yet so very epic piano ballad announces the heart and tears of one who has weathered the cold winds of life and persists in blooming again. Park Hyo Shin's strong emotive voice, with a hint of huskiness and vulnerability, delivers the song to absolute perfection.

3. Tae YeonRain

Known as one of the vocal queens of K-pop, Girls' Generation's Tae Yeon was the first featured artist of SM Entertainment's S.M. Station project with the single Rain. The soulful, jazzy mid-tempo ballad looks back to the painful yet precious memories of a past relationship on a rainy day. Tae Yeon's tender and euphonious voice gives the song a stronger sense of sorrow, in addition to sentimental lyrics like "You were the beam of light in this black and white world. Come to me as the rain and light up my soul."

4. Lim Chang JungLove Again

Lim Chang Jung has two distinct images in Korean entertainment: the coarse everyman of comedic films and the comforting crooner of heartfelt ballads. In recent years, the actor-singer has timed all his releases for fall. His title songs alone are already a playlist for the season, like "The Love That I Committed," "There Has Never Been a Day I Haven't Loved You" and "Love Again," which was released on September 22, 2015, exactly for the start of fall. His voice and ballad style – strong but not overpowering, emotional but not overwhelming – are also exactly right for the autumn mood.

5. T (Yoon Mi Rae)As Time Goes By

The title song from Yoon Mi Rae's first solo album in 2001 has a classic R&B tempo and aura that slowly encompass you in melancholy. Composed by hitmaker Park Geun Tae, the ballad reflects on a past love that stays in your heart even as time goes by. Tasha's powerful vocals and distinct tone – gotta love those low notes and runs! – subtly convey the helpless, overflowing emotions of heartbreak and longing.

6. Kyu HyunThe Day We Felt the Distance

You might have heard of Kyu Hyun's hit releases like "At Gwanghwamun" and "Blah Blah," but there is one hidden gem that you shouldn't miss – his 2015 autumn single "The Day We Felt the Distance." Beginning with an intro from Bach's Air on the G String, "The Day We Felt the Distance" sorrowfully portrays the feeling of noticing the distance between each other in a long-term relationship and not wanting to let go. The Super Junior member's sweet voice and high notes best channel the poignant and desperate ambience of the string orchestral composition.

7. Kim Dong RyulShould I Say I Love You Again?

If there's any voice that's born for autumn, it'd have to be Kim Dong Ryul's. The singer-songwriter's rich baritone vocals simply seem to tell stories in every note. The title song of his third album Coming Home released in 2001, this heartrending classic looks to a past love with a mix of hope, regret and apprehension. Both stirring and soothing, the song begins gently with a faint yearning and builds to a crescendo of emotions.

8. IUThrough the Night

Without a doubt, IU's award-winning single "Through the Night" is one of the best serenades to accompany your sleepless nights. The singer's calm, delicate and velvety voice carries the tranquil ambience of the very simple and clean acoustic guitar tune. Besides the beautiful melody, the hit song's poetic and romantic lyrics are also remarkable: "Tonight, I will send the fireflies from that day to your window, and it means I love you."

9. Jung Il YoungReason

Longtime K-Drama fans will recognize this song immediately: the theme song of the classic 2000 Korean Wave drama Autumn in My Heart starring Song Hye Kyo, Song Seung Heon and Won Bin. The whole soundtrack is perfect for autumn, but Jung Il Young's piano- and strings-accompanied ballad in particular, performed in his silky high voice, really hits you right in the feels. A heartbreaking love song to match a heartbreaking love story.

10. DavichiDays Without You

It's difficult for younger ballad singers to be active and popular for more than a decade, but Davichi is the exception. As the most well-known ballad duo in Korea, Davichi has successfully established their signature music style with multiple hit tracks. Though "Days Without You" is a typical breakup ballad, Lee Hae Ri and Kang Min Kyung's unique tones and powerful high notes elevate it to a higher level of agony. Every minute and second after parting is painful, but Davichi's songs console and heal – they're just perfect for this sentimental season!

11. DelispiceChau Chau

Recognizable from the very first note, Delispice's Chau Chau is one of those songs that immediately puts you in a MOOD. The band's representative 1997 hit mesmerizes with its unmistakable guitar line. Vocals don't appear until a good 50 seconds into the song with repeated cries of "I can hear your voice no matter how hard I try to block it." The muted alternative rock number has an intricate, haunting quality that lingers for days on end. This is the song that plays in your mind when you walk down a lonely street, hands in pockets, on a crisp autumn morning.

12. f(x)Goodbye Summer (feat. EXO's D.O.)

Goodbye Summer and Hello Autumn! Album side tracks are often overlooked, but f(x)'s Goodbye Summer grabbed the spotlight upon release. Krystal and D.O.'s mellow voices, Luna's powerful vocal, Amber's rhythmical rap, their harmonies – everything about this song is lovable! Life is full of regrets and wrong decisions, and they somehow become painful memories. Just bid farewell to those bittersweet youthful moments and move on.

13. BTOBMissing You

Rather than sticking to stereotypical idol concepts, BTOB has made a name for themselves as the talented "idol ballad group" with hits like "It's Okay," "Way Back Home" and "Missing You," which became one of the most successful singles of 2017 on digital music charts. Starting with some gentle piano notes, "Missing You" naturally escorts you on a walk down memory lane with its pleasant melody and the members' mellifluous voices – not to mention their impressive falsettos and harmonies!

14. Lee Sun HeeMeet Him Among Them

Loved by all generations for her impeccable vocals and ballads, the legendary Lee Sun Hee gave us this new classic in 2014 for her 30th anniversary. The warm yet wistful pop ballad updates her style to a simply arranged melody that calls upon her wide vocal range, from deep and gentle regrets to high-soaring recollections. Though this song was released in the spring, its pronounced emotions and air of reminiscence and reflection feel even more appropriate for autumn.

15. Jung Seung HwanThe Snowman

Who says K-ballads have to be all desolate and despairing? Rising singer-songwriter Jung Seung Hwan topped music charts in early 2018 with the soft ballad "The Snowman" written by IU and "Through the Night" composer Kim Jae Hwi. Dreamy as a fairy tale, "The Snowman" blends a fantasy-like winter vibe with autumn emotions into a retro-style folk ballad melody. With the vivid imagery in the lyrics, the song sounds comforting and inspiring rather than sorrowful. Get ready for winter while listening to this extraordinarily heartwarming ballad!

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Published September 25, 2019

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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